How many banks build a human-sized igloo from milk jugs in the lobby? Or set up a campsite, complete with fire pit? Or a ’50-style soda fountain, complete with a soda jerk?

It’s all part of Project Prosper at PBI Bank, an initiative to engage employees and customers and boost growth. In cycles of six to eight weeks, the bank sends out a mailing urging people to open new accounts and receive a free gift. The gifts, which change each cycle, have included a packable cooler – hence the igloo – a car kit and a 133-piece tool set. Customers who refer friends who open new accounts receive the gift as well.

It’s spurred a flurry of projects at the branch offices to promote the effort – and unleashed a competitive nature among employees.

“It’s funny how you’ll get a series of emails, saying, ‘We just opened a new account!’” and another will say, “We just opened two!” and then another will say, “Well, we opened four!” says Jill Krimm, senior vice president and human resources director at PBI.

“There’s just this energy that surrounds this. It’s been incredible the creativity that people have shown … They decorate, they dress up and embrace the opportunity to engage customers.”

Culture is the big difference

“There are approximately 6,000 FDIC-insured commercial banks in the United States and, for the most part, their offerings are similar,” explains President and CEO John Taylor.

He believes the difference has to come through the bank’s people and culture.

“If you go into the Apple Store, it has a distinctive culture,” Taylor explains. Southwest Airlines also has its own. “It’s a serious industry, but they’re having a lot of fun,” he says and adds, “Likewise, the bank’s culture will be its differentiator.”

“I believe the more fun we have, the better the job we’re going to do for our stakeholders,” Taylor says.

PBI Bank Inc. is a Kentucky-based, community-focused financial institution with headquarters in Louisville, Ky. Through a network of banking centers across the Commonwealth, they provide communities with a broad range of high-quality retail and business banking services, while working to develop personal customer relationships.

The bank’s markets include Louisville in Jefferson County and the surrounding counties of Henry and Bullitt, and extend south along the Interstate 65 corridor. They serve south central Kentucky and southern Kentucky with banking centers in Butler, Green, Hart, Edmonson, Barren, Warren, Ohio and Daviess counties. They also have a banking center in Lexington, the second largest city in Kentucky.

“At a lot of banks, it’s just an in-and-out type of transaction. But some people want to go have coffee with the folks at the bank and have this conversation about their daughters upcoming wedding or their grandchild’s performance in the school play,” Krimm says.

The big banks seek to reduce costs through commoditized offerings and increasingly computerized loan decisions, Taylor says.

“If you’re an entrepreneur seeking a $1 million loan, you might not fit into the box,” he explains, using air quotes. “You might need to talk to someone and explain your needs.”

PBI Bank named among the “Best Places to Work”

PBI Bank has been named among the Best Places to Work in Kentucky for the past three years and is pleased to announce that they have been named a “Best Places to Work in Kentucky” for the fourth year in 2017. That process involves surveying employees’ comments that are sent back to the employer anonymously, such as:

“Creative and out-of-the box thinking is encouraged and rewarded. Success in any part of the organization is shared with everyone and celebrated with everyone. Compared to other places I have worked, the stress level is lower, even though the job demands are the same. That shows that the organization values its people and has created an environment that helps individuals excel. There is a feeling of community, not just career.”

That illustrates its core values:

  • Honesty and integrity
  • Having a positive and constructive attitude
  • Being a team player
  • Professionalism
  • Celebrating successes

The comments are invaluable, Krimm says, and the company works to address issues that employees present.

“We never want employees to hesitate to bring concerns or ideas to us for fear that they will not be heard,” she says. “We want to know what’s important to our employees and, if possible, we want to accommodate those needs.”

One comment the bank heard repeatedly was that employees wanted a way to borrow against their 401k accounts. Though not a particularly good idea to do so, nevertheless, the company made that possible.

As part of Project Prosper, the bank has been offering more training to employees from customer service representatives to market presidents to help them transition from a transaction-oriented mindset to a more sales orientation, Smith says.

“We had people [before] who could never imagine having this conversation urging customers to go tell a friend [about the bank], now it’s just part of the process and they’ve embraced it,” Krimm says.

Openings for loan officers and processors, as well as customer support

PBI would like to hire more loan officers and loan processors for its branches as well as customer resource advisors for its Louisville customer resource center, which provides customer support statewide. Click here to apply.

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